Qualitative Research Journals in Education

Archibold, Randall. (1999, January). As Parents Sweat, 4th Graders Cram for New Test. New York Times, v148 i51397, p. A1

Bracey, G. W. (1992, February). Predicting school success for at-risk children. Phi Delta Kappan, v73 i6, p. 492.

Phelan, Patricia; Davidson, Ann Locke; Cao, and Hanh Thanh. (1992, May). Speaking up: students’ perspectives on school. Phi Delta Kappan, v73 n9, p.695(9).

The following academic journal resources all utilized effective qualitative research methods. This report will identify and describe the approaches and methods taken in these studies to achieve the qualitative research.

The Research Design Symposium is meeting for the last time. The goal of this meeting will be to consider the value of qualitative research. The methodologies used in the studies above address the needed research concerning the matter of standardized tests and the causal relationship they have with anxiety. The approaches that will be discussed are ethnography, phenomenology, and field research. The methods that will be discussed are participant observation, direct observation, and unstructured interviewing.

The term ethnography comes from the field of anthropology. The purpose of this research approach is to study an entire culture. Typically, when one thinks of culture, we immediately think of ethnicity and perhaps location globally. However, recent studies have broadened this understanding to include “any” group or organization regardless of previously mentioned ideologies. The approach of ethnography is most common with the method of participant observation. However, the study listed above did not utilize this method. In fact, the method that the study used was unstructured interviewing. Unstructured interviewing involves direct interaction. The most important aspect about this method is that it does not possess a formal structured instrument or protocol. The interviewer is very “free” to move the conversation as he/she sees fit. I can understand why this method would be used to address research that involves ethnic difference. Sometimes researchers feel the need to direct the interview so that the participant does not feel manipulated and also so that the participant does not become offended by the interviewers assumptions or questions. Although this method is usually more difficult to interpret the interviewed data (because of its lack of structure), it is the broad undertaking that makes this method appropriate for the study.

The second study that used qualitative research used different approaches and different methods. The approach used was phenomenology. This approach has a long history and can be closely linked to the field of Philosophy. However, the purpose of this approach is to emphasize a focus on the participant’s experiences and interpretations of his/her environment. Additionally, the researcher would use this approach to better understand how the world is seen through the eyes of another person. This approach is to establish a “perception” and how the research supports or changes this perception. The method used in this study was direct observation. The researcher used video cameras to observe the phenomenon. The purpose of this method is to observe certain controlled sampled situations. Also, this method is not as long as other methods, and therefore, it tends to be more focused than other types of observations (participant observations). The researcher in this instance is not taking part in this experiment. His/her entire purpose is to be a ghost. Direct observation attempts to keep a distance so as not to bias the observations. For example, on reality shows currently on television, would the participants act different if they didn’t know that they were being watched by millions of people?
The final study mentioned earlier uses the approach of field research. Field research is very broad. The purpose of this approach is to gather qualitative data. Examples of this type of data include in-depth interviewing, direct observation, and written documentation. The researcher embodies himself/herself into the environment of the research. The researcher relies heavily on field notes and extensive use of coding.

The method used in the final study was direct observation. Oddly enough, field research is closely related to the method of participant observation. Participant observation is considered the most common methods of qualitative research. The most important aspect of effective participant observation is that the researcher must be engulfed in the context. It is almost as if the researcher is “under-cover”. The researcher must plan on spending years gathering data. He/she must also be willing to be wait until he/she is accepted within this culture or environment. The acceptance of the researcher is important for the researcher to observe the natural phenomenon as it happens. The researcher becomes a part of the research. This method is very extensive and thorough. This data may also be interpreted later in the form of a “case study”, which is also a qualitative method not used in the three studies presented.

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